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Not pushing the team too hard – a fine balance that can be easy to miss – Part 4 ..

This is a series of posts (Previous post about a hard pushing manager) that I am writing about the morale issues we faced in a team that increased its productivity levels over a period of months, making it one of the most productive teams in the company. However, the issue was about whether we reached a point where the team members starting protesting against the policies being followed, and we started facing morale issues. At this point, we had a series of meetings and discussions about what was going wrong, and these are some of the discussions we were having.
In this post, we talk about compensation issues and what these can do to morale, especially in a team which was being setup for high productivity. Over a period of time, the company decided to setup a system to encourage high performers. Initially, the company had a system where a bonus was paid out to all members of the organization when the organization reached a certain performance level. However, over a period of time, the organization got into a mode to focus on the high performers in the organization and ensure that they got into reward mode. Previously, the company used to ensure that people who were high performing got their rewards through an accelerated growth during the annual appraisal cycle.
But, in a twist, there was a lot of push in the higher management towards putting more focus on the high performers in the company. This was based on a study and research which showed that the whole industry was getting in a mode whereby the high performers wanted to be differentiated from the others who were not as good as them; and the company also wanted to ensure that attrition levels were contained within the high performers. So as a result, a lot of the policies were geared towards benefiting the high performers in the organization.
Further, these 2 trends started converging on each other – the team was geared towards higher productivity and at the same time, there was a trend to divide the team into multiple groups for the benefits of giving awards. The policy was to use a Bell curve to divide the team into multiple groups, with the higher rated members of the team getting a greater share of the benefits than earlier. The Bell curve ensured that division of the team resulted in lower ranked members of the team getting lower amounts of benefits than earlier. This was difficult to explain to these team members, especially since they could see a productivity increase and were unable to understand why they were getting rated lower; and even worse, were getting a lower share of the benefits than earlier. The biggest problem was that now the stock grant was given to a lesser percentage of the team than before, and hence people could suddenly see that they were not getting stock as they used to be given earlier.
This resulted in a major morale issue, and you could see that people who were not placed in the higher ranking group were dissatisfied with the policy of the company, not about their ranking, but the fact that the company had suddenly decided to make a major difference between the high ranking members and the ones who were not so high ranked.

Continued in the next post ..

Outswim the Sharks: How to Quadruple Your Team’s Productivity with Kindness How to Unleash the Collaborative Genius of Teams for Increased Engagement, Productivity, and Results Visual Meetings: How Graphics, Sticky Notes and Idea Mapping Can Transform Group Productivity

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